Activities at the World History Association's
18th Annual Conference in Salem, Massachusetts,
25-28 June 2009

     Plans for the conference have been progressing rapidly and a number of Salem and the North Shore's civic, academic, and historical organizations have promised to join in making this a conference not to be missed or forgotten.

     The Mayor of Salem, Massachusetts, Kim Driscoll, plans to declare the week that the WHA meets in her city as "World History Week." To learn more about Salem go to; equally important is the entirety of Essex County, one of New England’s most significant regions so far as the early United States’ role in world history was concerned. To find out more about the cultural attractions of Essex County, see

     On Thursday, 25 June, Dr. Emily Murphy, historian and public affairs officer at the Salem National Maritime Historic Site, will lead two special guided tours of Salem's sites of world historical significance for conferees and their families for the nominal fee of $5 per person. Each tour, offered at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM will assemble at the NPS Visitor Center and take approximately 2 hours. Conferees and their families will visit the harbor district along Derby Street and also tour the McIntire District with its unsurpassed collection of colonial and early-federal-era buildings, many built during the height of Salem's involvement in the East India trade. Chestnut Street, which is part of this district, has been acclaimed "the most beautiful street in America." As a National Park Service (NPS) gift to conferees, anyone displaying a conference badge will also be able to join, free of charge, any and all regularly scheduled NPS guided tours of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which are offered on a daily basis.

NPS’s West India Goods Store on Derby Street

     The NPS will exhibit at the conference, and conferees may find at its exhibition table information regarding the many nearby national parks, monuments, and sites within easy driving distance of Salem, as well many of the curriculum-based educational programs offered by parks in the Boston region. Dr. Murphy informs us that on at least one day of the conference she will be there "in full colonial kit," wearing the fruits of this city's 18th-century global trade, including Irish linen, Indian cotton, French ribbons, Chinese fans, and Italian straw hats. Children accompanying their parents will not want to miss this.

     And speaking of children, those of grade- and middle-school age can, at their and their parents' convenience, visit Salem Maritime National Historic Site on Derby Street, where they can earn a Junior Ranger badge by learning something about life in Salem during the Great Age of Sail. To learn more about the Salem National Maritime Historic Site, go to


     An optional (and free) Thursday tour by bus from Salem to the Charlestown Navy Yard (in the shadow of Bunker Hill and the site where Paul Revere landed after being rowed across the Charles River on his way to sound the alert) to visit the 1797 frigate USS Constitution, known popularly as “Old Ironsides” (see, will be underwritten by Salem State College's Alumni Association and is open to the first 45 to sign up. Participants (who are limited to persons registered for the conference) may sign up by e-mail with the WHA at The subject line should read “USS Constitution Tour.” Conferees who participate in this program will receive a special guided tour of the ship and will  visit areas and facilities that are normally closed to the public. Leading the tour and also offering a lecture on "Old Ironsides's Role in World History" will be Margherita Desy, official historian of the ship.

USS Constitution with Bunker Hill Monument in the Background

     Several local organizations have offered their sites as conference
venues. The world-famous Peabody Essex Museum, the USA's first world history museum, with roots going back to 1799, offers free admission to everyone with a WHA conference badge—a saving of $15 per person. Moreover, PEM has offered the WHA free use of one of its galleries as a site for a pair of afternoon sessions. Go to for a virtual tour of this extraordinary maritime museum.

     Among the many activities planned for the conference is a film festival, which centers on the screening of two documentary films on Thursday and Saturday evenings: "Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North" (Thursday) and “The Letter”  (Saturday). The former studies the effects of slavery on the Massachusetts North Shore and the discovery by one family of its ancestors’ involvement in that trade. The latter, by award-winning director Ziad Hamzeh, studies the post 9/11 firestorm that erupted in Lewiston, Maine when 1,100 Somali refugees were relocated there. The festival organizers have organized a roundtable to follow each film led by the film makers and historians.

     A special treat for conferees is the public talk by William H. McNeill, “Trading Up to World History,” Friday evening, 6:15-7:15,sponsored by Berkshire Publications. The talk will be followed by a reception for conferees and their guests sponsored by College Board. Professor McNeill will also be featured in the Saturday night roundtable “World History: Past, Present, and Future.”

     The conference promises to be the largest and best ever, with over 100 panels and roundtables offered on a wide variety of global-history topics (including three panels on opium in world history). Additionally, a large number of publishers and other purveyors of educational media will exhibit at the conference. Several have also pledged patronage of receptions and refreshment breaks.

     Salem State is planning to hold, in conjunction with the conference, a five-day AP World History Institute led by Michele Forman, 2001 National Teacher Laureate, and a five-day graduate-level summer seminar on world history. The latter will include a special one-day workshop for teachers on the transit of religions along the Silk Road led by Professor Morris Rossabi of Columbia University, a distinguished authority in the field and someone dedicated to teacher training and superior secondary school history education.

     As suggested above, the WHA is highlighting this as an opportunity for a family vacation. Unhappily, the Red Sox will not be in town, but one can still visit Fenway Park for a tour of America’s most beloved baseball park and its Green Monstah. Fast ferries connect Salem with nearby Boston. There is also a fast and inexpensive train service between Salem and Boston’s North Station. The Italian North End, the Freedom Trail, Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, Frederick Law Olmstead's Emerald Belt, the Boston Garden's Swan Boats and "Make Way for Ducklings," the Museum of Fine Arts and the nearby Gardner Museum, which is housed in a Venetian-style palazzo, Newbury Street (Boston's Soho), nearby Harvard Square (easily and inexpensively reached from Boston on the Red Line train): These are only a few reasons to travel to Boston from Salem, but look at for more. And have we mentioned such important sites along the North Shore as the Lowell Industrial Historic Park, dedicated to preserving the history of the US's industrial revolution, and the Saugus Iron Works National Historical Site? In fact, 25 National Historical Parks and Sites are within easy commuting of Salem. Then there are the great seafood restaurants along the North Shore featuring lobster, clams, and a wide variety of nature's oceanic bounty. Conference tote bags will contain plenty of suggestions where conferees can dine al fresco and well along a rugged sea shore. Well, one restaurant is worth mentioning: A special local favorite is the Barnacle Restaurant in nearby Marblehead, where the clam "chowdah" is fantastic and the ocean view spectacular.

     World History scholars will want to plan extended visits in order to take advantage of the rich academic resources of the area. Harvard University’s holdings and museums are incomparable. Of particular relevance to this conference is Harvard's Sackler Museum, which houses Buddhist treasures carried off from Dunhuang in 1924 by Langdon Warner, a dashing and highly controversial Indiana Jones prototype. Boston College, Boston University, MIT, the Academy of Arts and Science, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Peabody Essex Museum's Phillips Library, and a host of other archival sites are also easily accessible. A special guided tour of the Oceania holdings of the Phillips Library on Sunday afternoon, 28 June, will be offered the first 15 conferees to sign up via e-mail. Write the WHA at The subject line should read “Phillips Library Tour.”

     On-line conference registration, as well as a down-loadable poster and a brochure and information regarding accommodations and conference activities, are available on the WHA home page at Every effort has been made to keep the conference fee for WHA members as affordable as possible. 

     Conferees are also encouraged to reserve early the limited number of conference hotel rooms, which are being offered at considerably reduced rates. Conferees bringing families and those desiring business-level amenities should consider the nearby Peabody Marriott, located about 3 miles away from Salem, which will necessitate an automobile.

Some Views of Nearby Boston

If you bring your family, be sure to tour the Freedom Trail in Boston. Just follow the red-brick road. Here we see John Adams before the Old State House explaining his defense of the “Boston Massacre” soldiers.

And do take the ferry connecting Salem and Boston. The three-story building in the center of the picture once served as John Hancock’s warehouse, where he undoubtedly hid smuggled goods. Today it is a popular restaurant.

A favorite Italian restaurant in the North End, Mama Maria. The view from the 2nd floor window tables is great. Paul Revere’s House is just down the square a bit—a few feet behind the white car.

Paul Revere’s House

Visit for ferry rides to Boston